Why Psychedelics Are Suddenly Receiving Massive Mainstream Attention

Google Search Trends just posted its highest score ever for the search term “psychedelics.” I’m flooded with emails from people interested in psychedelic therapy. Suddenly psychedelics are on the tips of everbody’s tongues. What is going on?

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Michael Pollan is going on. The best-selling author just released his latest book: “How To Change Your Mind.” In it, he chronicles both the history and science of psychedelics and psychedelic therapies as well as his own personal experiences immersing himself in the underground psychedelic therapy world. It’s a fascinating read, and, as always with Michael Pollan, very well researched and very well written.

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Now much of this has been chronicled before, repeatedly, ad-nauseum even. However, not by such a mainstream and widely-influential author. Since releasing the book last month, Michael has been on Fresh Air with Terry Grossand has published articles on the topic in the New York Timesthe Guardian, and the Atlantic. In fact its pretty hard not to come-across his thoughts on the subjects these days.

And Pollan’s background interest and fascination with plants, which he explored in The Botany of Desire, and the human relationship with the natural world, which he covered in Omnivore’s Dilemma, give his book a unique take on the subject. He explores and makes the case for plant consciousness and intelligence as well as the benefits psychedelic use can have on environmental awareness and consciousness of our inseparable relationship with nature.

But fundamentally the book is about psychedelic therapy and medicine. His timing could not be better: MDMA-assisted psychedelic therapy may be on the cusp of regulatory approval and research on therapeutic uses of psychedelics are booming at major universities around the country and world.

What I find most interesting about Michael Pollan’s book is its impact on readers. I’ve had so many conversations with people whose only previous experience with psychedelics was recreational, maybe in college or maybe at Burning Man. The idea that you can use psychedelics in an intentional way for therapeutic or medicinal purposes is a novel idea for them and they are curious about it. Suddenly Pollan is shining a very bright spotlight on the incredible transformative power of the therapeutic use of psychedelics and entheogens to a mainstream audience that may still associate these substances with “turn on, tune in, drop out.

In a country that is awash in depression, addiction, and anxiety, its ironic that the most cutting edge tool shown to address these very issues is something that culturally-speaking has been sitting around the attic for the past 40 years. Perhaps we are now ready to dust it off and put it to some much needed use.

Psychedelic Therapy: The State Of The Art In 2018

With the incredible amount of public attention being showered upon psychedelic research, and a growing acceptance in mainstream psychiatry, it is a good time to take a step-back and examine the current state of the research as 2018 gets underway. 

Much has been made of the so-called “psychedelic renaissance,” which has emerged following a 30-year drought in psychedelics research and above-board therapeutic uses. Coupled with a surge in interest in plant medicines like ayahuasca and the recent popularization of micro-dosing psychedelics for both mental health and productivity, its safe to say that psychedelics have again penetrated mainstream consciousness. 

How To Integrate A Psychedelic Experience

Integration is a much talked-about term among users of psychedelics these days, but I have found that for many it is still an abstract or vague concept. It can be hard to wrap one’s head around a process that is multi-dimensional and so deeply personal.

What does integration really mean in practical and tangible terms? From my experience guiding people before, during, and after intensive, week-long ayahuasca retreats, integration is the process by which the experiences that occurred during ceremony, or during a psychedelic experience, translate into actual changes in your life.

Psychobiotics, The Future of Mental Health?

The gut microbiome has become one of the most exciting fields of medical inquiry of the last decade. Much of the research began as an effort to understand and address a variety of chronic stomach ailments that have come into popular focus over the last 25 years, conditions such as Crohn’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcerative colitis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Psychotherapists and psychologists have long postulated a connection between psychological ailments, psychosocial stressors, and stomach disorders. For example, 61% of people with IBS also have a DSM-diagnosed anxiety disorder. The classic understanding posits that high stress levels and anxious tendencies can cause disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract, including high stomach acid levels and hyper-reactive bowels, that may lead to various GI disorders. 

Can Ayahuasca Really Cure Depression?

There has been a lot of attention on the Amazonian plant medicine Ayahuasca over the last few years, especially for its therapeutic potential. But, frankly, there has also been a lot of hype. Statements such as “its 10 years of therapy in 1 night” get bandied about regularly. And the psychedelic press makes big proclamations like “A Single Session Of Ayahuasca Defeats Depression” when new research is released. Meanwhile, the mainstream press relishes in the ayahuasca tragedy stories or overly sensational stories about the visions or the purging. In the end it creates a cloud of misinformation and confusion about what ayahuasca is and what it can do.

The Power of Exercise for Mental Clarity and Emotional Stability

Most people look at exercise as a something you do solely for your body. Specifically, many people look at exercising as simply a calorie destruction mechanism to be engaged in so that that they don’t get fat. Much of our current attitude around exercise comes from 1980s fitness concepts such as the the carlorie-in/calorie-out complex. Doing something to avoid something else is usually a very poor motivator for humans. As a result exercise often falls into the basket of “things I should do” that while enthusiastically embraced right around New Years, eventually ends up being discarded by the time spring cleaning rolls around.

Why You Need A Media Cleanse

Many people I know are freaked out on a regular basis these days. And can you blame them? We’ve got Climate Change, Trump Tweets, North Korea, ISIS, Brexit, mass shootings, sex scandals, hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes… oh my! Its almost as if the entire world is completely falling apart! Except it most certainly is not. While all of these things are real, marinating in the juices of all the world’s “problems” isn’t helpful or functional. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.